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To My Kids: Why Are You Trying to Kill Yourselves?

Photograph by Getty Images

My dearest 3- and 5-year-old children:

Why are you trying to kill yourselves? It’s a question I never thought I’d have to ask a child of mine, yet it’s the question I find myself asking you two every day.

You try to kill yourselves in the morning when you wake up, in the afternoon when you should be napping and at night before bedtime — don’t you ever get tired? You try to kill yourselves at home, at play dates, at birthday parties, in the supermarket and even at your grandparents’ houses.

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There’s the jumping. You fling yourselves from couches, from beds, from any available surface you can climb really. I tell you what could happen (mommy broke her leg jumping off a couch when she was 4 years old). I tell you what did happen (Your Aunt Jen broke her foot jumping off a bed when she was 3 years old). I tell you what will happen (Your cousin Lily broke her foot last week jumping off a couch and THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU, TOO, IF YOU DON’T STOP JUMPING!) — but it’s like you’re not even listening.

There’s the climbing. Now, I realize you are boys, really I do, but must you climb up anything you find? The couch, the window ledge, the kitchen chairs, a tree outside, the drawers in your room, the drawers in the playroom, the drawers in other people’s houses — really, do you have no shame? You’d think you were being raised by wolves. But you’re not being raised by wolves. You’re being raised by me.

Ahem.

To put in terms that you can understand: Stop it, or I’m throwing Spiderman in the garbage.

I would think you have lots to live for. After all, I married a wonderful man who is your daddy (you should’ve seen some of the losers I dated in my 20s), you live in a lovely house (that you are intent on trashing each and every day of the week), and I make you delicious meals and snacks all day (that you throw on the floor for me to clean up). It’s like living in a hotel with concierge and maid service. Wouldn’t that be motivation enough to try to keep yourselves alive and well?

I’m not even asking you to take care of yourselves. (Although, eating an apple or a banana here and there certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea.) I’m just asking you to cease all activities which would cause you to break a limb, crack your head open or break your back. Is that so bad?

I understand you want to play in the dirt (and then eat it), run out into parking lots (without even looking both ways, much less holding my hand) and touch the toilet bowl (and then have a snack without washing your hands first). But my job is to keep you safe and healthy. Is that so difficult to understand? WHY DON’T YOU WANT ME TO DO MY JOB?!

From now on, I respectfully request that you cease and desist from any and all activities that can result in death, dismemberment or disgusting hygiene. Or, to put in terms that you can understand: Stop it, or I’m throwing Spiderman in the garbage.

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My only solace is that one day, you’ll have kids who are just as wild as you are, and when you cry to me about how hard it is to watch them, I’ll look at you and laugh out loud.

Sort of the way my mother does to me.

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